In my last essay, I described growing up as the daughter of war-torn survivors of the Holocaust. People who go through trauma often bottle their emotions up (to the extent they can), but my parents did not. It was all out there, explicitly. Even my own name, I knew, was the name of someone who had died "over there." I was meant to hear, and learn, and most of all—to remember. It was though at birth I'd been given a folded flag, which had once draped a coffin, to bear. I carried it everywhere; it was my standard.
On some unconscious level, I felt that my parents were asking me to join their special group. We were all "people who knew more than the obvious." The world had a past; it had secrets; all was not how it appeared to be. If there is an opposite to rose-colored glasses, that is what I learned to put on, glasses that revealed the dark, painful truths of existence. Hatred, pettiness, loss, betrayal - all these lay under the surface. The neighbor next door seemed nice, but would he have saved us, or would he have given us up? The kindly shopkeeper who reached his arm up to get my favorite "Betty and Veronica" comic book - would he have turned his head away as Jews, condemned, were marched out of town? You might suppose that the traumas of the past almost ruined everything for me. But they didn't. At least not in an obvious way. Because I decided that I was part of my parents' elite mission. The mission, should I choose to accept it, was to make the world a better place. When I'd done that, I could let them know that everything different now, defused. And then we could be happy together.